disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to best friend, for letting me hide out in her bed. cool deal, bro.
notes: that fuckin episode / s

title: combat barbie
summary: Asami Sato is not a princess. Asami Sato is a soldier in a war. — Asami/Korra.

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They spent three days hiding out in the sewers.

It felt like very much longer than that.

Asami hadn't seen sunlight in sixty-eight hours, forty-three minutes and counting. And she was. Counting, that is. She was counting out the seconds as they waited for someone—anyone—to come and pick them up and put them back on track.

It was a long wait.

She sat with her back against cold concrete, knees up to her chest as she stared into the guttering fire. Earlier, the flames had thrown the little hovel they'd appropriated into high relief as they danced, blue-white heat under the cranberry-orange crackle.

Now, though, only the embers remained.

"Hey," Korra murmured.

"Oh," said Asami. "It's you."

"Yeah. Um, look, I—"

"I know," Asami said simply. "It's okay. I don't blame you."

"You should."

"Why?"

"Because I was part of it, too. I mean, I sort of kissed him first, so—"

Asami shook her head, curls flying every which direction. They'd gone skewey with the heat; sweat and dirt caked at the back of her neck and it felt so, so good to fling them and not care where they went. Her pins went flying. They clinked silver against the concrete and bounced away into the darkness.

"It's not—" Asasmi couldn't help the strange keening laughter that escaped her. "Heh, heh, it's not even—you know, he didn't—he didn't, heh, even—heh, heh—"

Her shoulders shook.

Asami double over, laughing so hard her ribs hurt.

It was ridiculous. This whole thing, it was ridiculous. The Equalists, and her father, and Korra, and Mako. The whole thing. Republic City, even. It was all so ridiculous that Asami didn't even know where to begin.

Korra sat next to her, silent and still, and allowed Asami to laugh herself into exhaustion.

Then they were quiet for a very long time.

"He didn't even tell me, you know?" Asami murmured. She looked down at the Equalist glove clamped around her hand and flexed her fingers. She hadn't taken it off, not even once, not since they'd escaped.

"What?" Korra asked.

"Mako," said Asami. "He didn't even have the guts to tell me himself."

Korra blinked, eyes like blue lanterns. "What? Then how—?"

"Bolin," Asami smiled. "I think it was on accident, but he told me. Just before we… found you; and Mako was freaking out and I was worried and… Bolin just sort of said it. He thought I knew. I didn't."

"Asami, I'm so sor—"

"Don't say it," Asami bit her lip to keep herself from hysteric laughter or hysteric tears; they were the same, right then. "Please don't."

"No, I—" Korra started, then froze and seemed to think about what she was about to say. "Okay. I won't."

"Thanks," Asami whispered. She sagged back against the wall, curls turning into a messy knot around her face. It would take hours to get it out, but she couldn't quite make herself care. She was tired, and sad, and laughed out in her bones. It was a great and terrible thing, and all at once she understood why loving the Avatar was so very easy.

She dropped her head to Korra's shoulder, and closed her eyes. "Sorry."

"Don't be," Korra said. Asami felt the shrug. "I just never really… had friends, you know? I wasn't allowed."

"Neither was I," Asami replied.

"Being a girl sucks," Korra huffed.

Asami chuckled. "Yeah, kinda."

"Hey, Asami…?"

"Hmn?"

"Are we friends?"

"Yeah," Asami said, nodding into Korra's shoulder. "Yeah, we are."

"Oh. Okay. Good."

Fingers curled around her palm; even through the metal of the glove, Asami could feel the burning heat. She wanted to smile—Korra should have been born a firebender. Maybe then things wouldn't hurt so much, she reflected.

"Are you sure?" the question came out soft and cool as mist.

"Of course," Asami was already drifting away.

Korra's dropped her chin down to rest on the top of Asami's head.

"Of course," she murmured. "Of course."

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fin.